Unsorted notions and a few links Mai 2013

May 26, 2013

I went out in the morning at 6 AM and killed 200 slugs with scissors. I’m a passionate mass murderer, since the slugs last spring ruined many of the pumpkin and chard sprouts and did eat a good part of the strawberry fruits. 

I want to eat the strawberry fruits by myself, I’m not gardening for the slugs and snails, for the mice and birds, I’m gardening to produce my own food, to become self reliant, to avoid the unhealthy, artificial products of the food industry.

The slugs are often tiny and not more than one centimeter long, but they grow fast and they have an insatiable appetite. Slugs like to travel in company. When I have detected one, I carefully search the surrounding area and most times find a few other ones nearby.

They are light brown or dark brown or black. They can be short or long, small or big. I have learned to recognize them whatever color, size, or shape they have, I know their places and migration routes, and I know their behavior. I walk across the meadow and look around the strawberry beds, vegetable beds, and hedges to find and cut them. One killed slug here and there will not make a difference, but I kill a lot, one every two seconds, sometimes one every single second. A thousand killed slugs per week make a difference.

Slugs love to cannibalize their dead fellow slugs. When I’ve finished my round I quickly check again the places where I was successful, to eliminate the ones that are just gorging on their dead relatives.

Snail mushroom strawberry

Cutting slugs with scissors may seem utterly disgusting to the reader. I find it disgusting too — but somebody has to do the job.

The main strawberry beds are fenced off with stripes of 20 centimeter high aluminum wire mesh. Small slugs can overcome this barrier (don’t ask me how) but if the bed finally is cleared from slugs (with bear cups, slug bait, and scissors) there will be seldom an intruder and the damage will be negligible. The aluminum mesh barriers also significantly impede the migration of the slugs.

In addition to the described methods I disperse iron based phosphate slug pellets in strategic places and I use an old trick which a fellow blogger last year told me: About 20 small cups filled with beer are buried in the ground to attract the slugs. They fall in and drown there. This is also a clever method to gauge the severity of the slug infestation.The first few days after I started my war against slugs all the cups were full of dead slug bodies (meaning another 200 eliminated slugs). Now there are only one or two in, I’ve indeed nearly extinguished them.

Is drowning slugs in beer more humane than cutting them in pieces? I don’t want to discuss the consciousness of slugs and their ability to feel pain extensively here. They die instantly when I cut them, so at least they don’t suffer for more than a moment. Their neural system isn’t highly developed and their bodies responses to injuries are probably not resembling anything close to the pain signals that reach the human brain in case of severe injuries or sicknesses.

Since I started gardening, my whole ethical framework has been uprooted and all values turned upside down. I always despised carnivores and sympathized with herbivores, I’m a vegetarian myself. Now I hunt the slugs and snails, and the resident hedgehogs and toads are my friends. The spiders have become my friends too, while the woodlice, plant lice, and many beetles have become my foes.

Empathy is always selective and limited, ethical frameworks and moral rules are not absolute but based on practicality and on the urge to thrive and survive. Beware of the hypocrites and the self-righteous religious fanatics. True believers in what?

Slugs are the bane of the garden, but their relatives, the snails, are not a big problem here — the hedgehog takes care of them. Every time when I find a cracked open empty snail house I say “thank you, my dear hedgehog.” Snails are also easier to detect than slugs — it would have advantages to travel light, but that’s not in their genes.

I just wonder, if the slugs over time will evolve and by mutation and natural selection a new bread of super slugs will develop. In Florida “giant African land snails” have emerged, they can grow to the size of rats and they cause quite some trouble there.

Super slugs, bigger, faster, and more clever, could become a life threatening problem. They would destroy all food crops, they would destroy every plant and leave just barren land. But they would also reach their limits one day, set by topography, climate, and predators (ducks, hedgehogs, some bird species, slow worms, toads). Bacterial diseases and parasites would decimate them too.

Are we the “super slugs”?

I was so excited when a toad last spring laid her spawn into the garden pond. The tadpoles are cute and funny, I watched them often for a few minutes. The pond unfortunately is inhabited by dragonfly nymphs, which are terrible predators who have wiped out nearly every other species in the pond.

People like the dragonfly nymphs because they keep the water clean of mosquito larvae. I prefer backswimmer, which would do the same job but not exterminate all other life. Backswimmers don’t feed on water beetles and tiny freshwater snails which keep the pond clean from algae.

The dragonflies thrive because the forest is their natural hunting ground and the nearby ponds are ideal breading places. When I built the pond, I put a ton of stones into it because I thought the gaps between the stones would be ideal hiding places for all species. Unfortunately the dragonfly nymphs make the best out of this special characteristic of the pond. If there would be more sludge and less stones, other insects like the backswimmers could bury themselves in the ground and escape the onslaught by the dragonfly nymphs.

Anytime humans try to control nature, there can be unintended consequences.

I intend to put a large portion of the stones out of the water and pile them up to a little wall along one of the hedges to create an additional refuge for lizards and toads. But that is a project which would occupy me for a few days and it is not a priority right now.

Last summer I was sad to see the tadpoles become less and less and I was doubtful that any of them would survive. But in fall I heard occasionally a soft croak, croak and I became more and more confident that at least one of them had made it.

toad 2012 tadpoles DSCN0158

One morning in March I finally caught the little toad youngster by surprise while it was sitting in the pond. The toad was small and dark grey, not orange/ocher colored like its mother. A few days later I surprised two in the pond; a couple! I thought, and I got even more excited when I discovered spawn strings in one corner of the pond.

But the spawn didn’t develop into tadpoles and the croak, croak, which was a familiar sound in the garden for a few weeks suddenly stopped.

A few days after the toad calls had stopped, at the start of April, I watched one of the cats chasing a snake. A snake isn’t fast enough to escape a cat, but the meandering, waving, twisting movements of the snake puzzled the cat and when the snake reached the garden pond it disappeared without a trace inside the wall of twigs, thorny scrubs, and bushes, that I have installed around the pond to prevent the cats from fishing out and killing frogs and toads.

This was the first time I ever saw a snake in the garden, snakes have become rare and they are threatened with extinction like all reptiles and amphibians. I have found a few blind worms though. They like the garden and one even hibernated in a corner of the garage, as I discovered when I started spring cleaning.

The snake had two orange marks on the neck and a look into Wikipedia confirmed, that this was a grass snake (Natrix Natrix), though a small and obviously very young one. The grass snake is the most common European snake and almost invariably lives near water. My garden pond with the surrounding wall of twigs and scrubs was for sure an ideal place for the animal.

Grass snakes are not venomous and they are loners, so this individual will be most likely the only one here and it will be no threat to anybody except the toads. Grass snakes unfortunately nearly exclusively feed on toads and it was undoubtly a wise move of the toad couple to leave the pond for a safer place.

A few days ago, when I went into the garden for a last inspection late at night after having absolved the obligatory daily walk in the forest with the cat family I encountered one of the toads. It is still small and grey. The toad tried to escape and hopped towards the wall of the house where it crouched in a corner motionless, helpless, clueless. I took it softly with a paper tissue and it relaxed, it seemed to sense that there was no danger anymore.

I had the little animal in my hand and just tried to memorize this moment for life. Toads are not particularly cuddly but I like them and feel for them. They are my friends. I put the toad carefully into the most dense hedge where it instantly disappeared.

Snakes are a threatened species, toads are even more threatened, cats are not threatened at all. My sympathies are with the toads, followed by the cats. But my preferences don’t matter, nature will take its course and I am only the observer. Not uninvolved though because I have to take care, that the garden always, no matter how intensively it is cultivated, provides enough hiding places and a suitable habitat for all critters.

toad 2012 DSCN0142

The reality of the garden, of the forest, of my associated cat family, tops the reality of the computer screen anytime.

Nevertheless, I turned on the computer again after being abstinent for a week, anxious to read the newest news and media lies, to sift through the deluge of disinformation, indoctrination, reeducation, propaganda. No, the CIA assassination squads still didn’t get Assad and the reports from Syria become more and more positive. 

Just for fun I looked at the blog statistics and found to my astonishment, that there are still between 40 and 60 people a day looking. I never expected to have that much traffic. It seems, that my tiny voice is heard by someone and maybe there is some apprehension or anticipation, so I feel compelled to publish another post. I didn’t write a text for two month, blogging is not that important for me.

Offloading a few ideas that recently ran through my head:

The prospect, that the imperial plans could be thwarted, the destabilization of one country after the other could be stopped, the evil axis of western neocolonial powers and Arab potentates could be beaten back, is exciting, gives hope, gives the peace- and anti-globalization movement a new life.

Does Dr. Bashar al-Assad realize, how admired he is, does he know that the hope of millions — if not billions — around the world rest on him, is he aware that he is the new idol, the new flag bearer of the anti-imperialism, anti-globalization movement?

Muammar Gaddafi and Hugo Chavez are dead, Fidel Castro Ruz has retired and become an elder statesman (an important voice though still), who else should take the lead?

Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent, is an interesting multifaceted person, an intelligent man, but not inspiring and not trustworthy. I still ponder, why Russia and China sacrificed Gaddafi’s Libya. Why didn’t they impede the western conquest like they do now in Syria? Are Vladimir Putin and Sergei Lavrov idiots? Was Libya simply not that important for them and didn’t they realize the implications? Or is the wickedness and vileness of western leaders and strategic planners simply beyond the comprehension of a normal, non-psychopathic person?

Sergei Lavrov is a chain smoker, but that shouldn’t completely disqualify him, MLK was a smoker too (and a womanizer/adulterer, just for the record).

Dr. Bashar al-AssadDr. Bashar al-Assad is most likely aware of his position and of the weight that is resting on his sholders, he is an intelligent, sensitive person, an eye doctor, who intended to have a quiet life treating and curing people, a man who reluctantly had to take the reign in Syria after the designated successor of then President Hafez al-Assad, Bashar’s glamorous brother Bassel, crashed his Mercedes in 1994.

Dr. Bashar al-Assad did not seek out recognition or popularity. He had no interest in being in the middle of politics. In his school days he was perceived as a shy, reserved, hesitant child who did not inherit any of his father’s or brother’s intelligence and leadership. Many Syrians viewed Bashar as a nerd, not someone with the instincts or the drive to lead a country.

Commentators described him as “not a natural politician” (whatever that may mean) and as nothing more than a figurehead for the influential Ba’ath party establishment.

Dr. Bashar al-Assad is not without fail. His neoliberal economic policies and privatization programs in the early years of his presidency — driven by his admiration of western culture — exaggerated social inequality and were together with the permanent drought and the resultant mass migration main causes of the social unrest that US Ambassador Ford and helpers used to start the Syrian rebellion.

Yet Bashar’s performance in the crisis until now is brilliant. Contrary to western media claims of a bloody suppression he avoided violence against the protesters, the policemen guarding the protest marches initially were unarmed (this explains why the death toll of syrian security forces at the start of the crisis was exorbitantly high).

Later, when police carried weapons the officers had to account for every bullet and got strict order to avoid any confrontation. The restraint didn’t help, as the destabilization efforts went on relentlessly and mercilessly and the western media curtained off the truth behind a wall of lies, working in overdrive to demonize the Syrian government and especially Dr. Bashar al-Assad.

One can only hope, that Dr. al-Assad’s love affair with capitalism and western consumerism has ended now. He needed to install a war economy, which is by definition not free market oriented. He clearly is not patronized anymore by Ba’ath party elders and he initiated the installment of a new political structure which over time should end one party rule and lead to a system that most likely will resemble a federal republic.

The new established local militias and councils also ought to be a guaranty for decentralization and local autonomy. The Kurds for sure will be rewarded for their steadfast support by far reaching autonomy.

A few links:

Interesting, how the the SPIEGEL, Germany’s main political propaganda magazine, turns the corner:

The AL-Monitor is a US funded propaganda tool, but it often publishes translations of detailed reports from local Middle East news agencies and every now and then there are gems hidden between the propaganda trash.

Our dependable, admired, battle hardened dissidents:

The following two pictures from the aftermath of the Oklahoma tornado deeply touched me:

oklahoma tornado saving the cat

Oklahoma Tornado saving the cat 2

And I thought: US Americans cannot be that terrible, there are good people there!

There are good people and bad people there, like in every nation. Unfortunately the bad people are in the driver seat. Not surprisingly, because in a society which admires wealth, power, and military strengths, the ruthless criminals, the cold blooded sociopaths will elbow their way through the ranks up to the top and occupy all important positions.

They say, that US inhabitants are hurting and the infrastructure is crumbling. Bridges collapse, train rails break, public services are reduced or privatized. Social programs are cut, healthcare becomes unaffordable, schools are closed. If you have no savings, you are out of luck. But your savings and your pension have been stolen by the shenanigans of the stock market.

And still, why are poor US Americans able to get obese when their fellow humans in Africa and Asia are starving to death? Why do US Americans in average still use 8 to 9 times more energy and resources than the other 95,6 percent of humans? Why is the US auto industry still doing fairly well and even said to be recovering? Why are US based corporations like Wal-Mart, ExxonMobile, Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Intel, J.P. Morgan, Wells Fargo, Procter & Gamble, Pfizer, Boing, Chevron, General Electric, etc. still the most profitable on earth?

Why is US oil exploration and mining still devastating nature and poisoning the biosphere in countless places around the world? Why are workers in overseas sweatshops still employed in slave like conditions, ruining their health and risking their lives while producing goods for the US consumer?

Why has the US electorate chosen presidents like Bush and Obama?

I once read, that US Americans spend an incredible 8 hours a day in front of TV or computer screens. I cannot prove the validity of this number, but everything what I read and hear indicates that this is not an exaggeration and that most US Americans in addition to this 8 hours stare the rest of their wake time at the screens of their smartphones.

No wonder that one is not able to make sensible choices when life is defined by the virtual reality of a TV, a computer, or a cellphone screen.

The screen-addiction of US Americans is a perfect tool to keep the lower classes sedated and quiet, it will be very hard if not impossible to change that. But the flame is still burning, and countless dissenters work clandestinely for change — real change. No need to go into details, I wrote about this issue many times before.

Monkeywrenching, and if that fails, mother nature will provide a solution by herself. Her moves will be overwhelming and decisive — it will not be pretty!

Oklahoma Tornado 15

texas fertilizer plant explosion 4

Shock Awe 1

Shock and awe.

No, I’m not bitter, I’m not discouraged, disillusioned, desperate. Nor am I tired, or exhausted, or willing to give up or give in or be quiet.

Life is suffering (the four noble truth), evidently, but life is too interesting to quit. One can turn the wilderness into a beautiful garden. And if that is not possible one can still cultivate the garden inside. Watching, learning, making music, spending time with loved ones, walking in the forest.

Being kind, tender, sensitive, understanding.

An open heart and a creative mind. Growing love and giving love to everyone who comes the way and who is willing to receive it.

Writing blog posts like this one.


Sifting through about 400 emails the story of Brigitta, the wheelchair cat, caught my eyes and touched me. Somebody shot at Brigitta with an air gun and the pellet lodged in her spine, paralyzing her hind legs. This was in Bulgaria, but Angela Heuer, a German woman who runs a private animal sanctuary and a charity for stray cats in Celle, transferred Brigitta to Germany to let the projectile remove (at the cost of 1,300 US$ — one must be indeed a dedicated animal lover to spend that amount of money!). Brigitta got a “cat-wheelchair” and has even found a new life purpose by adopting two tiny abandoned kittens. She can’t feed them, but she nuzzles and licks them affectionately and guards them like any other cat mother would do.

Brigitta wheel chair cat 3

Brigitta wheel chair cat 4


When I read this story, I thought: Humans cannot be that terrible, there are good people on this planet!

There are good people and bad people on this planet, like on every other earthlike planet in the universe. Unfortunately the bad people are in the driver seat. Not surprisingly, because in a world which admires wealth, power, and military strengths, the ruthless criminals, the cold blooded sociopaths will elbow their way through the ranks up to the top and occupy all important positions.

The reader is invited to continue the story at her or his own liking.


  1. Dear Mato, I am glad to find that we share a love of toads and a dislike of slugs! I too have been on warpath against slugs in my garden (not yet this year, it’s been too cold for anything to be growing yet!) and last year I was astonished to find that there were very few slugs in my chard and lettuce beds.

    After a while I discovered the reason: a very fat toad was living under the deck, right next to those leafy greens! I called her my “guardian toad,” and I do hope she is still there, waiting to get back on the job this spring as soon as the weather warms up!

    Unfortunately, I also saw a snake in my garden this spring…my dog Loki found it sunning itself by one of the vegetable beds. That does not bode well for the toad. In my childhood we always had toads and snakes in cycles…and I will never forget the day I found a snake with a half-eaten toad sticking out of its mouth, the toad’s legs still flailing weakly. I was so furious and upset! But of course, there was nothing to be done about it–it was “nature’s way.”

    Is it “nature’s way” that human beings currently have the entire world gasping for life and flailing weakly in our clutches? I have no doubt that Mother Nature will soon act to rebuke us and put us back in our place, cutting our numbers through disasters and starvation on a biblical scale. It won’t be pretty, as you say. But it seems to be necessary–the only way to curb our off-the-charts growth and all the damage we are doing to the planet.

    You are so right about Americans and our addiction to screens. I too believe that this is the number one reason why we are such a terribly passive society. We mistake virtual action for real action, and the lines get continually blurred. People can make huge fortunes–in real, tangible cash–through their screens, after all. People are increasingly “dating” on the screen, and most entertainment comes through the screen. We neglect our bodies and become grotesque Brains, like IT in A Wrinkle in Time. Where this will end it’s hard to say. We have not yet figured out how to circumvent the body’s need to eat and eliminate waste, to maintain its temperature and to sleep–all functions that have not changed at all since the dawn of human beings. We forget our physicality at our own peril. And yet here in the US, where, as you say, even for the poor life is relatively easy, it can be easy to lose our sense of embodiment in the face of the ubiquity of screens and their soporific effect. We live in a dream world and don’t want to wake up. We won’t wake up until the body tells us in no uncertain terms that we must, or face annihilation. By then, I’m afraid it will be much too late.

    I don’t know the answer to any of this. I do know that loving toads, and even snakes, is part of the answer. Teaching our children reverence for the natural world, and the age-old skill of gardening, is part of it. Forcing our kids to break their addiction to the screen is part of it, and it’s a battle I wage every day, exhaustingly, with my teenage son. I gave in and got him a smart phone–a must in his friend circle–and now I watch with dismay as he spends much more time texting his “girlfriend” than actually doing things with her in person. At least I am there to point this out to him and pull him away to help me in the garden!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts as always, Mato. You are a breath of fresh air and I’m glad others are noticing and giving your blog the attention it deserves!


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